article> Social distancing in lecture halls recommended, upcoming exams are part of the reason.
KU Leuven Takes a Stance: Online Classes on a Voluntary Basis
Universities across Belgium are making the switch back to online-learning, but KU Leuven has other plans. Students are still welcome on campus as long as social distancing is maintained.
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The Voice is the student newspaper run by internationals at KU Leuven. Between 2018 and 2022, The Voice published articles on the Veto website under the The Voice section, combined with translations of Dutch Veto articles. After 2022, the section was renamed to Veto English. Since then, the section has been operated by Veto English staff only.
Originally written in Dutch for Veto by Elien Stouten
Translated by Alon Nudler
Originally published on November 27, 2021
The recent advice from the panel of experts for the handling of the pandemic, also known as the GEMS, was to return universities to online learning starting Monday.
VUB and UGent announced that they would be drastically reducing the number of students on campus. In an email sent last night to all students and staff, KU Leuven announced they had a different approach in mind.
Freedom of choice
KU Leuven made the surprising decision to keep students away from their computers. Students have the freedom to choose to either go to class in person or follow online. Luc Sels, rector of KU Leuven, recommends that those who do attend lectures in person make use of the coloured stickers on the seats to space themselves out.
Professors will be required to record and livestream all content as long as the facilities allow for it.
According to the university, professors report that attendance in most of the courses is already at a reduced capacity. It would seem that students themselves are taking full advantage of the online resources and following classes online when necessary.
Professors will be required to record and livestream all content as long as the facilities allow for it. The university recommends that if this is not possible, then the class be moved to either Blackboard Collaborate or MS Teams, with an in person attendance option still possible.
If there are good reasons, such as a systematically high occupancy rate in the auditorium, some educational activities will nevertheless take place completely virtually after approval by the faculty.
The chosen measures are not set in stone.
If attendance remains unreasonably high, the professor can request permission from the faculty to move the course fully online. However practice sessions, laboratories, and seminars are exempt from this rule. They will always take place in person at full capacity.
Libraries will remain open, but students will need to make use of the KURT reservation system again. The university stresses that the chosen measures are not set in stone and could change and become even stricter if necessary.
Against the grain
At VUB a full online model has been announced, effectively ‘code red’. UGent is a bit more moderate, switching to ‘code orange’ which is more in line with the GEMS recommendation. This means that at UGent, a maximum in-person attendance of 1/5th has been allowed, all others will follow online.
‘Usually code orange is just a preparatory step for fully online classes.’
Luc Sels, rector
Exams are the reason
The upcoming exams are a major reason for this decision. ‘We want to prevent the situation where students are forced to drastically change their study approach in the last weeks of the semester.’
KU Leuven wants to allow students to engage as much as possible. According to Sels, ‘by giving students a choice, we are also helping students take better care of their mental health.’